What is Bullying?
According to the Victorian Education Department bullying is defined as:
‘when someone, or a group of people, who have more power at the time, deliberately upset or hurt another person, their property, reputation or social acceptance on more than one occasion.’
Understanding bullying becomes clearer when we identify examples from the 3 categories of bullying behaviour, as outlined by Lawson (1995). It is important to remember that the behaviour is not considered bullying if it is an isolated incident.
Direct Physical Bullying
This includes, but is not limited to hitting, tripping, pushing, taking possessions or damaging property.
Direct Verbal Bullying
Direct verbal bullying can include name calling, offensive, threatening and insultive remarks. Topics may include homophobic and racist remarks, highlighting special needs or verbal abuse.
This form of bullying is harder to recognise and is often carried out behind the bullied student’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and /or cause humiliation.
Indirect bullying includes lying and spreading rumours, playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate, mimicking, encouraging others to socially exclude someone, damaging someone’s social reputation and social acceptance, cyber-bullying, which includes the use of email and text messages or chat rooms to humiliate and distress.
What about what is NOT bullying? Not all conflict between peers can be classified as bullying. It is sometimes difficult to identify the difference between bullying and everyday conflict. The following would not be regarded as bullying:
In mutual conflict situations, there is an argument or disagreement between students but not an imbalance of power. Both parties are upset and usually both want a resolution to the problem. However, unresolved mutual conflict sometimes develops into a bullying situation with one person becoming targeted repeatedly for ?retaliation? in a one-sided way.
Social Rejection or Dislike
Unless the social rejection is directed towards someone specific and involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others, it is not bullying.
Single episode acts of nastiness, of meanness, random acts of aggression or intimidation.
If a student is verbally abused or pushed on one occasion they are not being bullied. Nastiness or physical aggression that is directed towards many different students is not the same as bullying.
Bullying is antisocial, not criminal behaviour. Some very aggressive acts are beyond the bounds of school bullying and should be handled by the police or juvenile authorities.
This may include threatening or using a weapon, serious theft, serious threatening to cause grievous bodily harm or to kill and sexually assault (including any unwanted sexual touching).